Police reform is not just about racism

To the editor:

I hope that the community will consider the broader implications of the first-proposed Malone police reform plan that was allowed to be presented to the public. The author chosen states that Malone has seen its long decline after manufacturing was moved abroad, leading to “Tremendous unemployment. Soaring drug and alcohol abuse. Despair.” But then the author goes on to demonize the people who have fallen weakest to these consequences of the overall decline. Here is one out of the many disparaging statements referring to deviants from the author’s standards, this one describing his opinion of “drug dealers and users”: “These people absolutely destroy the quality of life for law-abiding and well-behaved residents.” How many of us “well behaved and law abiding citizens” has a loved one or relation that has fallen in weakness to deviancy? Would we be better to condemn them or to address the problems realistically with compassion rather than harsh authority? I wish to bring attention to the following thought: If the mayor and MVP agree with this rationale, criminalizing the very products of the downfall described, regardless of blatant examples of racism or lack thereof, is this type of viewpoint conductive to the overall well-being of our community?

The author then goes on to state that Malone is a true community (bizarrely relating this to “homogenous heritage” as he has probably not experienced otherwise). This seems highly contradicting to the author’s many gossipy, judgmental and demeaning statements. How can one brag about Christian values and at the same time judge and disregard the least of these? It seems to me that the author is bigoted if he can boast that “the social contract is very much alive” and “take care of your neighbor and anyone else in the community who is in crisis,” and then go on to disparage “transient” community members who are here to be near incarcerated loved ones, or refer so insensitively to mental health instability, or so unashamedly judge the Mohawk Nation and blame them for a “never-ending crisis” of illicit drugs.

I would argue that these opinions (apparently shared by the mayor and the MVP) are ill-informed and are not formed out of critical thought and compassion — rather bias and anger toward not only the failed economic and industrial trajectory of the larger society, but also toward the weaker and disempowered members of society who are the harsh face of the reality of decline. What if we used this reform mandate to address a more positive and proactive approach to healing the whole community of the effects of despair brought on by decades of decline? While the author and many people clearly feel that the reform mandate is an attack on police, I believe it is a sign of respect that we entrust this responsibility to them, that the officers who willingly chose a career of service and protection would welcome diverse community input, and accountability, on how to even more actively improve the community they are committed to.

Amanda Kats



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